Southwest of Payson, the land lies mostly still. Yet poking around into the history reveals far more than just a chunk of private land in the midst of Tonto National Forest. It reveals ties to a big local name and a big state name. This is the story of the Excursion Mine.
Deep within paperwork documenting the removal of the mine and surrounding 20 acres, the original notice of location can be found. It is dated Sept. 18, 1879 and has two notable names attached. The first, locals probably don’t know, but some Phoenicians might. The second is often referenced as a “founding father” of Payson. They are DeForest Porter and William Burch, who claimed the Excursion Mine on that date.
DeForest Porter was one of three justices on the Arizona Territorial Supreme Court from 1872 to 1880. Later he served a term as mayor of Phoenix. How he got to know Burch is a question that could be delved into further. But it is clear that this was a noteworthy man.
William Burch came to the area around 1876. It is said that he was the first settler to build a house – located where the 5th green of the Payson Golf Course is now. Burch was a significant player in the area until he and his family moved to the Buckeye area in 1893.
The abstract of the location of the Excursion Mine provides further insight into the times.
“3 miles north East of the ‘House & Rouse’ Mine – 4 ? miles South East of Burch’s house, in Green Valley.”
The House & Rouse Mine was a key discovery in 1877 that helped spur on other mining in the area. The Excursion Mine is located in area rich with mining claims.
Burch transferred his interest in the mine to Edwin Porter, presumably DeForest’s brother, on May 29, 1880 for $450. DeForest Porter transferred his interest a month later for $100. The Consolidated Excursion Mining Company was formed shortly after that, existing until the mine was transferred to Herbert H. Logan in 1886.
Logan had a number of mines in the area that he patented, including the American, Ox Bow, and Gowan. He appears to have been a player on some level in the state, serving on various commissions. He also gave a speech along with the Governor of Arizona at the Marine and Field Club in New York July 28, 1891.
The Excursion Mine itself was primarily a gold mine. A 150 foot shaft was sunk on the property in the early days of the mine. Here’s a clip from 1939 report regarding the development of the property:
“There has been but little activity in the Dist. since the (18)eighties. At that time a 150ft incline shaft was sunk to the then water level which has since receded about 40ft as shown by other workings in the Dist. From the 100ft, drifts were run 50ft east following the vein and 75ft west following the vein. All these was reopened and samples taken from wall to wall, shaft now is in bad shape from caving of the collar but can be put in good working order and workings cleaned out for a nominal sum. Ore is 3ft wide at the collar and six ft wide at the 100ft and 4ft wide at the bottom of the shaft but cannot prove it now. 50ft west of the main shaft a 25ft shaft was sunk and bottomed in 3 1/2ft of ore.
“Cuts on the surface and outcrops prove the existence of ore for 900ft of an average width of three ft. The original owners unable to treat the ore by the then known methods were compelled to cease development.”
The old mine shafts have long been closed up and the property now lies firmly in private hands with a 3,200 foot house sitting on the property. The property sits in the shadows of the Mazatzal Mountains, now an area far more known for its ranching than its mining.